Although cool in the morning, it was a sunny and serene riding day, albeit chilly riding. The route was one of rolling hills, nothing especially steep - just everlasting. This required more energy than we have been used to. It drained many riders who are glad that tomorrow is a rest day.
Shortly after getting into a comfortably pedaling rhythm this morning, we stopped for some "photo ops." (The views of the Alaska range are so magnificent, I've run out of adjectives.) Perhaps 10-20 feet behind where I laid down my bike off the road, a young male caribou came crashing out of the brush. He certainly startled me, and had I been a minute or two later, we likely might have had a very physical encounter. As it was, we pointed our cameras toward him. Ever the aspiring "wild animal actor," he glanced around at us, paused to strike an appropriate caribou pose, gave himself a good shiver and shake, and then slowly continued his saunter across the highway.
For lunch we stopped at the very friendly Meier's Lake Roadhouse, 23 miles down the road. Another roadhouse where the eleven of us seemed to overwhelm the single-cook-kitchen. Lunch was a drawn out meal as we relaxed; one rider fell asleep in the large brown vinyl reclining lounge chair as we waited for our food. The trip leader set up his spotting scope so we could scan the adjacent lake for loons and other wildlife. We were not bored during our lunch sojourn.
Fifteen miles after lunch, in an exceptional bit of insight, our leader suggested we stop for an afternoon snack at Paxson Lake Lodge, at the junction of the Denali and Richardson Highways, en route to our destination today - Summit Lake. In actuality, Summit Lake wasn't far down the road. But we were tired and needed the morale boost. This fueling stop was well timed and appreciated by all, as we gathered around the long table and indulged in pies, cookies, iced tea, soft drinks, coffee - anything to create pedaling energy.
Pie ala mode desserts - I've been having a lot of them lately. Two riders vie over who gets the inevitable "only one piece left" of strawberry-rhubarb pie. This has led to miles-long races to be first at a roadhouse, "just in case there is only one piece left." I think the score is now 1 and 1. At Paxson Lodge, rather than create further competition for rhubarb pie, I happily feasted on raspberry pie ala mode.
Although the weather has been cool and pleasant most of the day, we no sooner arrived at the B&B;grounds than thick gray wet clouds moved in from Isabel Pass and began to jettison their moisture directly over our tents. From the look of the sky around us, we received the brunt of these clouds while much of the rest of the area was clear. "Your mission, if you choose to accept, is that of Rain Goddess." Fortunately I pitched my tent in the nick of time. Others weren't quite so lucky.
The group amassed in a Real Living Room soon after arriving at our B&B; and setting up housekeeping (pitching our tents on the surrounding lawn). Perhaps the imminent threat of drizzle of a more serious nature encouraged us inside. Our hosts, Jeannie and Lee, are incredibly hospitable! Although we are not staying inside, we were encouraged to make ourselves at home, enjoy the t.v., hang out in the living room, and (for a small price) use the laundry facilities and the shower.
We also have dogs to play with. Three miniature schnauzers own the B&B, and are happy for attention from anyone, family and stranger alike.
The entry porch was stacked with large flat pans and cookie sheets of fresh-picked wild fat blueberries...Jeannie, our B&B; owner, picks them out along the pipeline and sells them to Hot Licks Ice Cream company in Fairbanks for use in their blueberry ice cream. When I'm in Fairbanks I must find Hot Licks and try the blueberry ice cream.
The mountain scenery continues to be increasingly spectacular and inspiring. The sunset colors, reflected off the lake and clouds, evolved from sky blue to fiery gold, into flamingo pink, to lavender and deep navy, were breathtaking.
Tomorrow is a rest day. Good. Time to explore this area.
Copyright (c) Judith J. Colwell, 1995. All rights reserved.